Leadership Begins with Decency
By Steve Harrison on July 29, 2013
Successful leaders understand the importance of paying attention to the details. They carve out time for brief, impromptu conversations with colleagues beyond the executive suite, express appreciation for employee efforts, provide a safe and transparent work environment, and understand that only by actively listening to employees will they uncover what motivates their workforce. These small gestures – or decencies – have a profound impact on an organization, fostering a culture of trust and integrity.
In The Manager’s Book of Decencies, I define decencies as catalysts for action: tangible evidence that we matter and that every role is essential to the success of an organization. Studies consistently reaffirm that employees crave recognition over other, more expensive and more elaborate, corporate incentives. Employees want to know that they’re valued by the organization and that their work matters.
Managing with decency is a demonstration of strength and vision. Leaders who consistently model behavior that’s considerate, respectful and ethical aren’t looking for a short-term quick fix. Rather, they’re focused on the long-term benefits of a culture based on decency: higher levels of performance, increased retention rates, sustainable employee engagement and enhanced teamwork – all of which position the organization as an employer of choice in the community.
As I’ve discussed throughout this series of articles, small gestures of kindness and tangible appreciation can build great companies where humility trumps hubris, success is shared, leaders are accessible, and employees have a clear understanding of the organization’s collective mission. Leaders who get results are bold, decisive, strategic, innovative – and decent.
Steve Harrison is a long-time management and corporate culture innovator. He is the author of “The Manager’s Book of Decencies: How Small Gestures Can Build Great Companies.” This is the last in an eight-part series from Steve addressing a philosophy of doing business that goes beyond the transfer of goods and services. It calls for a transfer of values known as small decencies. Steve is co-founder and Chairman of Lee Hecht Harrison and former chief ethics and compliance officer of Adecco Group.
Read the full series:
- Building a Great Company: Putting Small Decencies into Action
- Informal Recognition – A Decency Every Organization Can Afford
- Four Tips for Developing “Listening Decencies”
- Are “Broken Windows” Threatening Your Organization?
- For Every Action There is a Reaction
- Going Beyond Legal Requirements to Create an Ethical Culture
- Affirming the Value of Your Workforce through Small Decencies
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